Stocks quoted in this article:
After closing the last two days with modest losses, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEXDJX:.DJI) is struggling to stay out of the red once again, as China- and Ukraine-driven anxieties distract investors. At last check, the blue-chip index was down 24.4 points, or 0.2%, at 16,326.85, after briefly peeking above breakeven. Many eyes are on Washington, as Arseniy Yatsenyuk -- the interim prime minister of Ukraine -- will be hosted at the White House today. The meeting occurs just days before Crimean residents will vote on whether to secede from Ukraine and join Russia. Meanwhile, concerns about an economic contraction in China are impacting copper futures. Closer to home, the U.S. Treasury budget for February will be reported at 2:00 p.m. ET today.
Here are a few noteworthy stats at midday:
- The equity put/call volume ratio across all 12 options exchanges currently stands at 0.89, with call volume outpacing put volume. So far today, 3.44 million calls have changed hands, compared to 3.08 million puts.
- China Mobile Ltd. (ADR) (NYSE:CHL) is seeing unusual option volume -- nearly quintupling normal levels -- and more than 93% of today's trades have crossed on the call side. Meanwhile, the shares have lost 1.2% to perch at $45.11, after earlier pegging a new two-year low of $44.80.
- The advance/decline ratio on the New York Stock Exchange stands at 0.97. Declining stocks are currently outpacing advancing names by a hair.
- One of today's biggest decliners on the Big Board, is Express, Inc. (NYSE:EXPR). Shares of the apparel retailer tumbled to an annual low of $15.51 earlier, and are currently off 11.8% at $16.09. Sparking the sell-off was news that the company's fourth-quarter earnings lagged the Street's consensus view. Adding insult to injury, EXPR officials said first-quarter and full-year earnings would likely fall short of analysts' projections by a considerable margin.
- The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) has moved into the red despite continued selling pressure in the major stock indexes. The "fear gauge" is currently off 1.4% at 14.60, but remains barely atop its 10-day moving average.
- Today's put/call volume ratio on the iPath S&P 500 VIX Short-Term Futures ETN (NYSEARCA:VXX) stands at 0.92, with call volume slightly outpacing put volume. The ETN has edged down 0.2% today to $44.26.
View a real-time chart of the Dow Jones Industrial Average 2 Minute (INDEXDJX:.DJI).